There’s something about putting good time, research and energy into a post… that all but makes it impossible to motivate myself to write it over if it is lost somehow. You’d think it would be easier, given that the post’s outline is all in my head, but having already written it just adds this strange sort of depressive writers block to the mix for me, and from other writers I’ve talked to, this isn’t at all abnormal.
Between random Wifi and internet failures, glitches in WordPress, accidental clicking away without saving a draft or any number of other unexpected things that could come along and send anywhere from a few minutes to hours of work down the drain, losing work that you’re punching in through a web browser happens far too often. Maybe some of you can better self-motivate, but once I’ve written a post and lost it, I find it very hard to push myself to write it over, making it important to try and not lose it in the first place.
I’d never really put much thought into finding a solution to this, other than trying to get into the habit of saving drafts of my work regularly and hoping that a draft was auto-saved correctly before the glitch came along.
Moore’s law being what it is though, I still had problems. Before I found the solution I describe here, the last glitch I had sent a great post down the tube because my login cookie had expired, so the post hadn’t auto-saved. I was so frustrated I just gave up, and came back later to write something totally different.
But then I was looking for a FireFox add-on that I could use as a better sidebar note taking app, and accidentally stumbled onto the Textarea Cache plugin. What it does is keep any text you enter, in any text box or WYSIWYG field, in your browser cache. In the options you can set it to save that data for anywhere between 5 minutes and a whole week. The only thing strange about the way it works is how you’ll often see the text you just submitted into a comment, on Facebook or blog for example, still in the text entry box after you submit it, but this quirk doesn’t change that it’s absolutely a life saver.
I do use both Chrome and FireFox (Chrome for the third monitor I have that usually is watching HootSuite, mainly because it does email and Facebook notifications better than FF does), so I looked for a similar extension for that browser. I tried looking over the extension results for terms related to text and cache, but could not find one (who knew there would be so many browser apps for geocaching?!?). If you have issues with losing work in Chrome, or are writing something especially important, you could always write the post in Google Docs, or Hotmail’s answer online version of Word, since they automatically, and regularly, auto-save.
Since installing the Textarea Cache plugin, just a couple weeks ago, it’s already saved one half written post that I accidentally closed the tab on before saving, and one fairly lengthy comment on other blog. This is less of a frustration, but since going on other peoples’ blogs and leaving thoughtful comments is one of the best way to bring traffic back to your site, it is frustrating when you write up a two paragraph response to a post, something goes wrong (something, in my experience, that happens more often than losing posts) and it all goes poof. With this, all I had to do was click on the icon on the bottom bar of my browser, and a simple text box, filled with the last thing I was typing, pops up. If you hide the bottom ‘Add-On Bar’, you can also add a link to your navigation toolbar up top.